Former Prime Minister Liz Truss is set to blame the UK’s anemic growth on too much “economic consensus,” while claiming that she would have spent £35.5 billion ($44 billion) less during the current Parliament than her successor Rishi Sunak.
(Bloomberg) — Former Prime Minister Liz Truss is set to blame the UK’s anemic growth on too much “economic consensus,” while claiming that she would have spent £35.5 billion ($44 billion) less during the current Parliament than her successor Rishi Sunak.
Almost exactly a year after Truss’s short-lived government published its ill-fated “mini-budget,” the ex-leader is expected to say in a speech on Monday that the Conservative Party took its “eye off the ball” after the Cold War and “allowed the [economic] debate to be framed and led by the left.”
“I believe that the reason for the problems we have is the 25 years of economic consensus that have led us to this period of stagnation,” she will say at an event hosted by the Institute for Government think-tank.
Truss is also expected to hit out at Sunak’s spending during his 11 months in office.
“What I sought to do was change the trajectory of spending by holding spending down,” she will say, adding that her plans to avoid a review of government expenditure despite rising inflation, and to increase welfare benefits in line with wages rather than prices, “would have saved £35.5 billion over two years.”
Truss has remained on the fringes of UK politics following her short, disastrous term as prime minister, but her comments echo concerns held by other members of the Tory party. After facing ridicule when her own fiscal plans sent financial markets into a tailspin, she has since been keen to defend her record, and even has a book entitled “Ten Years to Save the West” slated for publication next April.
Her attack on Sunak comes as the current prime minister faces criticism from both right and left of the political divide, amid fractures in his own party. While Sunak and his supporters are advocating fiscal prudence, Tory critics claim he should be cutting taxes to boost economic growth.
Read more: Rishi Sunak’s Last-Ditch Plan to Save His Job: Don’t Look Back
Labour, meanwhile, are looking to make gains in traditional Tory heartlands as they court business and swing voters. A recent Bloomberg survey showed around two-thirds of finance professionals back Keir Starmer’s center-left party, or a Labour-led coalition, as the “most market-friendly outcome” of a general election expected next year.
The growing popularity of Labour in the City of London will come as a stinging blow to the Tories, who have failed to erase memories of Truss’s time in office which rocked gilt markets as she outlined a series of radical tax cuts.
“Some people have described these as ‘unfunded tax cuts.’ This is not a fair or accurate description,” Truss is expected to say on Monday, citing calculations from the Centre for Economics and Business Research think-tank, which suggested certain of her tax cuts would have increased revenues to the Treasury over five years.
In an effort to avoid Truss’s mistakes, Starmer has distanced himself from previous high-spending Labour governments by implying that he will err on the side of fiscal conservatism. Questioned on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, he refused to rule out a rise in taxes for the wealthy.
“I want the tax burden to come down, particularly on working people,” Starmer said. “But I’m absolutely focused on growing the economy.”
Another topic set to underpin the next general election is migrants and asylum seekers making their way to the UK on small boats. Both major political parties have vowed to crack down on the people smugglers enabling these journeys, but have struggled to outline exactly how.
Starmer is hoping to get the edge on the Conservatives by increasing cooperation with the EU, especially France — setting the backdrop to a high-profile summit set to take place this week between the Labour leader and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Read more: UK’s Starmer Vows to End Use of Hotels for Asylum Seekers
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